For the jukebox_fest
song-based fanfiction exchange, my assignment fic was for Courtney Barnett's "Pedestrian at Best". I discovered Barnett's music about two weeks before Jukebox
- I think her new album is fantastic and I think "Pedestrian at Best" is a phenomenal song, channeling a hefty dose of Nirvana and filtering it through Barnett's own perverse sense of humor.
It was tricky to figure out how to fic it, though. It's not a song about a plot, it's a song about a character, and I needed to find a scenario that character could realistically inhabit.Project Origami Money
(1189 words) by seekingferret
Fandom: Pedestrian at Best- Courtney Barnett
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Original Characters
Give me all your money, and I'll make some origami, honey
I wrote three different partial story drafts, including one where the pedestrian at best character was a mediocre robot, a comic parody of a Three Laws robot. There's a lot of mechanical imagery in the song, and it was a fun idea but I couldn't break the plot. In the end, I wrote a story about a ridiculous tax dodge as art installation.morbane
's comment on the story is intriguing- she wonders if the whole art installation is a scam of some sort. To which I would say that regardless, somebody is being scammed in this story, either the IRS or the investors, and I'm not entirely sure who.
I am not an expert on tax law and I did not do any research in order to write this story, except for a couple back of the envelope calculations about the space taken up by various amounts of money and paper. That said, I do not believe this tax scheme would actually work under current law, and if it did, it would immediately be criminalized. That's not really the point.
The point is that there is a constant and sometimes difficult relationship between commerce and art and government, because we (mostly rightly, I think) believe that art is deserving of protections from government interference, but this means that sometimes when commercial entities create art, they thereby gain protections from legitimate government regulation. There is no good clean way to adjudicate the boundaries of art and commerce, which means we must make balancing decisions about the virtues of art and commerce constantly in the grey areas.
Presently in America we are debating the question of whether money is speech. Of course it is not, and yet there is no way to regulate money universally without infringing on speech. And so we might burn money in the name of art.
And yet... art must, I think at least, have aesthetic interests. One of the jokes of this story is the deliberate anti-art aesthetic of the final exhibition. Anti-art is still an aesthetic, I think, though a difficult one to appreciate, and therefore a difficult one to create well. I do think that the story's punchline works because Hester has something worth saying, but she hasn't found a sufficiently elegant way to say it. And that particular phenomenon is something that all viewers of 21st century art are familiar with.
As a pinch hit, I wrote a story as well for Josh Ritter's beautiful "The Temptation of Adam". It's the second time I have ficced this song, which is why I felt comfortable claiming the pinch hit. The first was The Last Temptation of Eve
, which I wrote for Yuletide five years ago. Both times, I wrote the story in under two hours from idea to completion... It's clear that this song has been resonating in my head for a long time.
I was also heavily influenced in this story by having recently read Alan Beyerchen's fasinating Scientists under Hitler: Politics and the physics community in the Third Reich
, which looked at the Nazi push to create a Deutschephysik
purified of Jewish influence, and the resistance of the German scientific community. The first three paragraphs of the fic bubbled up purely from my ruminations on that book, but I think they set the stage for what follows quite effectively.
What follows is a story that amplifies the moral ambiguity and tension of desire that makes the original song so mesmerizing. The Atom Bomb is a thing which since its creation has been associated, even or especially by its creators, with the usurpation of God's domain by Humankind. Our corresponding uncertainty about the power is about our mistrust of our ability to live Godly lives. Ritter's primary Biblical correspondence is to Adam and Eve and the serpent in the Garden, but surely there is also a parallel to God in John 3:16, who so loved the world that he sacrificed his son for it. Adam so loves Marie that he contemplates sacrificing the world for her. And meanwhile, is she sacrificing the world for him?The Uncertainty Principle
(1080 words) by seekingferret
Fandom: The Temptation of Adam - Josh Ritter (Song)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Marie/Narrator (Last Temptation of Adam)
Characters: Marie (Last Temptation of Adam), Narrator (Last Temptation of Adam)
Only the tough will claw their way to the afterlife: the Ouroboros Society motto.
Meanwhile, the gift I received was a wonderfully funny, absurd "Dark Fantasy" fic. Kanye builds this scenario out of dense allusive images, and this story expands those images out to give each component room to express itself separately. Kanye sings "Mercy, Mercy Me- Murcielago" for the sound of it, but he manages to conjure a contrast between the artistry of the African-American music of Kanye's childhood and the conspicuous consumption of contemporary hip hop, between history and living in the moment, between doing something bad for the right reasons and doing something good for the wrong ones. The fic just has a Lambo that sings Marvin Gaye.
The result is something a lot bigger than you would expect it to be, which maintains the humor and irony of the original and also manages to keep the sense of social purpose that is curiously present in all of Kanye's most seemingly unserious work.Twisted Fiction
(2758 words) by merryghoul
Fandom: Dark Fantasy - Kanye West (Song)
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Kanye West, Lucifer, Steve Urkel, Original Characters, Original Non-Human Character(s), Headless Horseman
Additional Tags: Spells & Enchantments, Cutting, Blood, Blow Jobs, Surreal, High School, Army, Shopping Malls, Heroin, Going to Hell, Hallucinations, Recreational Drug Use, Faustian Bargain
Kanye can't believe all of this is happening to him. Or is it?